11.19.12

Newest Paper Mario an "anti-JRPG"

The best thing about the Paper Mario series is its bizarre sense of humor. Sure you're saving the world, but the boss fights are against characters with weaknesses other than fire or ice. The newest game in the series, Paper Mario: Stick Star for 3DS, goes back to its turn-based combat roots. Jason Johnson's review at Bit Creature renews my confidence in the bizarre landscape of this series.

If you couldn’t guess, Sticker Star is far from your typical outing in Mario-land. The bonkers story is a welcome surprise, as I learned in a surreal moment when Birdo, everyone’s favorite transgendered amphibian, dropped in to spit a rhyme on the nature of sexuality, which was capped off with, believe it or not, a double entendre about egg on your face. And then, and then! she tossed to me a plastic figurine of a goat. Seriously, what has gotten into nice, normal, overconscientious Nintendo? I don’t know, but I like it.

The genius stroke is that you can pretty much avoid the boring stuff whenever you feel like it. In fact, it doesn’t become a truly outstanding game until your patience wears thin, and you start sidestepping the enemies instead of picking fights. Then, it’s good-ol’ Mario, with tricky jumps and smiling cactuses to elude––and when you screw up by running into an enemy, there’s a turn-based battle. It really flips the genre on its noggin. Paper Mario: Sticker Star might be the first anti-JRPG; a game that tries so hard to make the JRPG bearable that it has become the opposite: something that is thoughtful and brilliant for the duration.